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My great-grandfather by the mother’s side, Hermanus Van Clattercop, when employed to build the large stone church at Rotterdam, which stands about three hundred yards to your left after you turn off from the Boomkeys, and which is so conveniently constructed that all the zealous Christians of Rotterdam prefer sleeping through a sermon there to any other church in the city ­my great-grandfather, I say, when employed to build that famous church, did in the first place send to Delft for a box of long pipes; then having purchased a new spitting-box and a hundredweight of the best Virginia, he sat himself down, and did nothing for the space of three months but smoke most laboriously.  Then did he spend full three months more in trudging on foot, and voyaging in the trekschuit, from Rotterdam to Amsterdam ­to Delft ­to Haerlem ­to Leyden ­to the Hague, knocking his head and breaking his pipe against every church in his road.  Then did he advance gradually nearer and nearer to Rotterdam, until he came in full sight of the identical spot whereon the church was to be built.  Then did he spend three months longer in walking round it and round it; contemplating it, first from one point of view and then from another ­now he would be paddled by it on the canal ­now would he peep at it through a telescope, from the other side of the Meuse ­and now would he take a bird’s-eye glance at it, from the top of one of those gigantic windmills which protect the gates of the city.  The good folks of the place were on the tiptoe of expectation and impatience ­notwithstanding all the turmoil of my great-grandfather, not a symptom of the church was yet to be seen; they even began to fear it would never be brought into the world, but that its great projector would lie down and die in labor of the mighty plan he had conceived.  At length, having occupied twelve good months in puffing and paddling, and talking and walking ­having traveled over all Holland, and even taken a peep into France and Germany ­having smoked five hundred and ninety-nine pipes and three hundredweight of the best Virginia tobacco ­my great-grandfather gathered together all that knowing and industrious class of citizens who prefer attending to anybody’s business sooner than their own, and having pulled off his coat and five pair of breeches, he advanced sturdily up, and laid the corner-stone of the church, in the presence of the whole multitude ­just at the commencement of the thirteenth month.

In a similar manner, and with the example of my worthy ancestor full before my eyes, have I proceeded in writing this most authentic history.  The honest Rotterdammers no doubt thought my great-grandfather was doing nothing at all to the purpose, while he was making such a world of prefatory bustle about the building of his church; and many of the ingenious inhabitants of this fair city will unquestionably suppose that all the preliminary chapters, with the discovery, population, and final settlement of America, were totally irrelevant and superfluous ­and that the main business, the history of New York, is not a jot more advanced than if I had never taken up my pen.  Never were wise people more mistaken in their conjectures.  In consequence of going to work slowly and deliberately, the church came out of my grandfather’s hands one of the most sumptuous, goodly, and glorious edifices in the known world ­excepting that, like our magnificent capitol at Washington, it was begun on so grand a scale that the good folk could not afford to finish more than the wing of it.  So, likewise, I trust, if ever I am able to finish this work on the plan I have commenced (of which, in simple truth, I sometimes have my doubts), it will be found that I have pursued the latest rules of my art, as exemplified in the writings of all the great American historians, and wrought a very large history out of a small subject ­which nowadays, is considered one of the great triumphs of historic skill.  To proceed, then, with the thread of my story.

In the ever-memorable year of our Lord, 1609, on a Saturday morning, the five-and-twentieth day of March, old style, did that “worthy and irrecoverable discoverer (as he has justly been called), Master Henry Hudson,” set sail from Holland in a stout vessel called the Half Moon, being employed by the Dutch East India Company to seek a north-west passage to China.

Henry (or, as the Dutch historians call him, Hendrick) Hudson was a seafaring man of renown, who had learned to smoke tobacco under Sir Walter Raleigh, and is said to have been the first to introduce it into Holland, which gained him much popularity in that country, and caused him to find great favor in the eyes of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General, and also of the Honorable West India Company.  He was a short, square, brawny old gentleman, with a double chin, a mastiff mouth, and a broad copper nose, which was supposed in those days to have acquired its fiery hue from the constant neighborhood of his tobacco pipe.

He wore a true Andrea Ferrara tucked in a leathern belt, and a commodore’s cocked hat on one side of his head.  He was remarkable for always jerking up his breeches when he gave out his orders, and his voice sounded not unlike the brattling of a tin trumpet, owing to the number of hard north-westers which he had swallowed in the course of his seafaring.

Such was Hendrick Hudson, of whom we have heard so much, and know so little; and I have been thus particular in his description, for the benefit of modern painters and statuaries, that they may represent him as he was; and not, according to their common custom with modern heroes, make him look like a Cæsar, or Marcus Aurelius, or the Apollo of Belvidere.

As chief mate and favorite companion, the commodore chose Master Robert Juet, of Limehouse, in England.  By some his name has been spelt Chewit, and ascribed to the circumstance of his having been the first man that ever chewed tobacco; but this I believe to be a mere flippancy; more especially as certain of his progeny are living at this day, who write their names Juet.  He was an old comrade and early schoolmate of the great Hudson, with whom he had often played truant and sailed chip boats in a neighboring pond, when they were little boys; from whence, it is said, the commodore first derived his bias towards a seafaring life.  Certain it is that the old people about Limehouse declared Robert Juet to be a unlucky urchin prone to mischief, that would one day or other come to the gallows.

He grew up as boys of that kind often grow up, a rambling, heedless varlet, tossed about in all quarters of the world, meeting with more perils and wonders than did Sinbad the Sailor, without growing a whit more wise, prudent, or ill-natured.  Under every misfortune he comforted himself with a quid of tobacco, and the truly philosophic maxim that “it will be all the same thing a hundred years hence.”  He was skilled in the art of carving anchors and true lovers’ knot on the bulk-heads and quarter railings, and was considered a great wit on board ship, in consequence of his playing pranks on everybody around, and now and then even making a wry face at old Hendrick when his back was turned.

To this universal genius are we indebted for many particulars concerning this voyage, of which he wrote a history, at the request of the commodore, who had an unconquerable aversion to writing himself, from having received so many floggings about it when at school.  To supply the deficiencies of Master Juet’s journal, which is written with true log-book brevity, I have availed myself of divers family traditions, handed down from my great-great-grandfather, who accompanied the expedition in the capacity of cabin-boy.

From all that I can learn, few incidents worthy of remark happened in the voyage; and it mortifies me exceedingly that I have to admit so noted an expedition into my work without making any more of it.

Suffice it to say, the voyage was prosperous and tranquil ­the crew, being a patient people, much given to slumber and vacuity, and but little troubled with the disease of thinking ­a malady of the mind, which is the sure breeder of discontent.  Hudson had laid in abundance of gin and sour-krout, and every man was allowed to sleep quietly at his post unless the wind blew.  True it is, some slight dissatisfaction was shown on two or three occasions at certain unreasonable conduct of Commodore Hudson.  Thus, for instance, he forbore to shorten sail when the wind was light and the weather serene, which was considered among the most experienced Dutch seamen as certain weather-breeders, or prognostics, that the weather would change for the worse.  He acted, moreover, in direct contradiction to that ancient and sage rule of the Dutch navigators, who always took in sail at night, put the helm a-port, and turned in; by which precaution they had a good night’s rest, were sure of knowing where they were the next morning, and stood but little chance of running down a continent in the dark.  He likewise prohibited the seamen from wearing more than five jackets and six pair of breeches, under pretence of rendering them more alert; and no man was permitted to go aloft and hand in sails with a pipe in his mouth, as is the invariable Dutch custom at the present day.  All these grievances, though they might ruffle for a moment the constitutional tranquillity of the honest Dutch tars, made but transient impression; they ate hugely, drank profusely, and slept immeasurably; and being under the especial guidance of Providence, the ship was safely conducted to the coast of America; where, after sundry unimportant touchings and standings off and on, she at length, on the fourth day of September, entered that majestic bay which at this day expands its ample bosom before the city of New York, and which had never before been visited by any European.

It has been traditionary in our family that when the great navigator was first blessed with a view of this enchanting island, he was observed, for the first and only time in his life, to exhibit strong symptoms of astonishment and admiration.  He is said to have turned to master Juet, and uttered these remarkable words, while he pointed towards this paradise of the new world ­“See! there!” ­and thereupon, as was always his way when he was uncommonly pleased, he did puff out such clouds of dense tobacco smoke that in one minute the vessel was out of sight of land, and Master Juet was fain to wait until the winds dispersed this impenetrable fog.

“It was indeed,” as my great-grandfather used to say, though in truth I never heard him, for he died, as might be expected, before I was born ­“it was indeed a spot on which the eye might have revelled for ever, in ever new and never-ending beauties.”  The island of Manna-hata spread wide before them, like some sweet vision of fancy, or some fair creation of industrious magic.  Its hills of smiling green swelled gently one above another, crowned with lofty trees of luxuriant growth; some pointing their tapering foliage towards the clouds which were gloriously transparent, and others loaded with a verdant burden of clambering vines, bowing their branches to the earth that was covered with flowers.  On the gentle declivities of the hills were scattered in gay profusion the dog-wood, the sumach, and the wild brier, whose scarlet berries and white blossoms glowed brightly among the deep green of the surrounding foliage; and here and there a curling column of smoke rising from the little glens that opened along the shore seemed to promise the weary voyagers a welcome at the hands of their fellow-creatures.  As they stood gazing with entranced attention on the scene before them, a red man, crowned with feathers, issued from one of these glens, and after contemplating in silent wonder the gallant ship, as she sat like a stately swan swimming on a silver lake, sounded the war-whoop, and bounded into the woods like a wild deer, to the utter astonishment of the phlegmatic Dutchmen, who had never heard such a noise or witnessed such a caper in their whole lives.

Of the transactions of our adventurers with the savages, and how the latter smoked copper pipes and ate dried currants; how they brought great store of tobacco and oysters; how they shot one of the ship’s crew, and how he was buried, I shall say nothing, being that I consider them unimportant to my history.  After tarrying a few days in the bay, in order to refresh themselves after their seafaring, our voyagers weighed anchor, to explore a mighty river which emptied into the bay.  This river, it is said, was known among the savages by the name of the Shatemuck; though we are assured in an excellent little history published in 1674, by John Josselyn, gent., that it was called the Mohegan; and Master Richard Bloome, who wrote some time afterwards, asserts the same ­so that I very much incline in favor of the opinion of these two honest gentlemen.  Be this as it may, up this river did the adventurous Hendrick proceed, little doubting but it would turn to be the much-looked-for passage to China!

The journal goes on to make mention of divers interviews between the crew and the natives in the voyage up the river; but as they would be impertinent to my history, I shall pass over them in silence, except the following dry joke, played off by the old commodore and his schoolfellow Robert Juet, which does such vast credit to their experimental philosophy that I cannot refrain from inserting it.  “Our master and his mate determined to try some of the chiefe men of the countrey whether they had any treacherie in them.  So they tooke them downe into the cabin, and gave them so much wine and acqua vitae that they were all merrie; and one of them had his wife with him, which sate so modestly, as any of our countrey women would do in a strange place.  In the end, one of them was drunke, which had been aboarde of our ship all the time that we had been there, and that was strange to them, for they could not tell how to take it."

Having satisfied himself by this ingenious experiment that the natives were an honest, social race of jolly roysterers, who had no objection to a drinking bout, and were very merry in their cups, the old commodore chuckled hugely to himself, and thrusting a double quid of tobacco in his cheek, directed Master Juet to have it carefully recorded, for the satisfaction of all the natural philosophers of the University of Leyden ­which done, he proceeded on his voyage with great self-complacency.  After sailing, however, above a hundred miles up the river, he found the watery world around him began to grow more shallow and confined, the current more rapid and perfectly fresh ­phenomena not uncommon in the ascent of rivers, but which puzzled the honest Dutchman prodigiously.  A consultation was therefore called, and having deliberated full six hours, they were brought to a determination by the ship’s running aground ­whereupon they unanimously concluded that there was but little chance of getting to China in this direction.  A boat, however, was despatched to explore higher up the river, which, on its return, confirmed the opinion; upon this the ship was warped off and put about with great difficulty, being, like most of her sex, exceedingly hard to govern; and the adventurous Hudson, according to the account of my great-great-grandfather, returned down the river ­with a prodigious flea in his ear!

Being satisfied that there was little likelihood of getting to China, unless, like the blind man, he returned from whence he set out, and took a fresh start, he forthwith recrossed the sea to Holland, where he was received with great welcome by the Honorable East India Company, who were very much rejoiced to see him come back safe ­with their ship; and at a large and respectable meeting of the first merchants and burgomasters of Amsterdam it was unanimously determined that, as a munificent reward for the eminent services he had performed, and the important discovery he had made, the great river Mohegan should be called after his name; and it continues to be called Hudson River unto this very day.


The delectable accounts given by the great Hudson and Master Juet of the country they had discovered excited not a little talk and speculation among the good people of Holland.  Letters patent were granted by Government to an association of merchants, called the West India Company, for the exclusive trade on Hudson River, on which they erected a trading-house called Fort Aurania, or Orange, from whence did spring the great city of Albany.  But I forbear to dwell on the various commercial and colonizing enterprises which took place; among which was that of Mynheer Adrian Block, who discovered and gave a name to Block Island, since famous for its cheese ­and shall barely confine myself to that which gave birth to this renowned city.

It was some three or four years after the return of the immortal Hendrick that a crew of honest Low Dutch colonists set sail from the city of Amsterdam for the shores of America.  It is an irreparable loss to history, and a great proof of the darkness of the age and the lamentable neglect of the noble art of book-making, since so industriously cultivated by knowing sea-captains and learned supercargoes, that an expedition so interesting and important in its results should be passed over in utter silence.  To my great-great-grandfather am I again indebted for the few facts I am enabled to give concerning it ­he having once more embarked for this country, with a full determination, as he said, of ending his days here ­and of begetting a race of Knickerbockers that should rise to be great men in the land.

The ship in which these illustrious adventurers set sail was called the Goede Vrouw, or good woman, in compliment to the wife of the president of the West India Company, who was allowed by everybody, except her husband, to be a sweet-tempered lady ­when not in liquor.  It was in truth a most gallant vessel, of the most approved Dutch construction, and made by the ablest ship-carpenters of Amsterdam, who, it is well known, always model their ships after the fair forms of their countrywomen.  Accordingly, it had one hundred feet in the beam, one hundred feet in the keel, and one hundred feet from the bottom of the stern-post to the taffrail.  Like the beauteous model, who was declared to be the greatest belle in Amsterdam, it was full in the bows, with a pair of enormous catheads, a copper bottom, and withal a most prodigious poop.

The architect, who was somewhat of a religious man, far from decorating the ship with pagan idols, such as Jupiter, Neptune or Hercules, which heathenish abominations, I have no doubt, occasion the misfortunes and shipwreck of many a noble vessel, he I say, on the contrary, did laudably erect for a head, a goodly image of St. Nicholas, equipped with a low, broad-brimmed hat, a huge pair of Flemish trunk hose, and a pipe that reached to the end of the bow-sprit.  Thus gallantly furnished, the staunch ship floated sideways, like a majestic goose, out of the harbor of the great city of Amsterdam, and all the bells that were not otherwise engaged, rung a triple bobmajor on the joyful occasion.

My great-great-grandfather remarks, that the voyage was uncommonly prosperous, for, being under the especial care of the ever-revered St. Nicholas, the Goede Vrouw seemed to be endowed with qualities unknown to common vessels.  Thus she made as much leeway as headway, could get along very nearly as fast with the wind a head as when it was a-poop, and was particularly great in a calm; in consequence of which singular advantage she made out to accomplish her voyage in a very few months, and came to anchor at the mouth of the Hudson, a little to the east of Gibbet Island.

Here lifting up their eyes they beheld, on what is at present called the Jersey shore, a small Indian village, pleasantly embowered in a grove of spreading elms, and the natives all collected on the beach, gazing in stupid admiration at the Goede Vrouw.  A boat was immediately dispatched to enter into a treaty with them, and, approaching the shore, hailed them through a trumpet in the most friendly terms; but so horribly confounded were these poor savages at the tremendous and uncouth sound of the Low Dutch language that they one and all took to their heels, and scampered over the Bergen Hills:  nor did they stop until they had buried themselves, head and ears, in the marshes on the other side, where they all miserably perished to a man; and their bones being collected and decently covered by the Tammany Society of that day, formed that singular mound called Rattlesnake Hill, which rises out of the center of the salt marshes a little to the east of the Newark Causeway.

Animated by this unlooked-for victory, our valiant heroes sprang ashore in triumph, took possession of the soil as conquerors, in the name of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General; and marching fearlessly forward, carried the village of Communipaw by storm, not withstanding that it was vigorously defended by some half a score of old squaws and pappooses.  On looking about them they were so transported with the excellences of the place that they had very little doubt the blessed St. Nicholas had guided them thither as the very spot whereon to settle their colony.  The softness of the soil was wonderfully adapted to the driving of piles; the swamps and marshes around them afforded ample opportunities for the constructing of dykes and dams; the shallowness of the shore was peculiarly favorable to the building of docks; in a word, this spot abounded with all the requisites for the foundation of a great Dutch City.  On making a faithful report, therefore, to the crew of the Goede Vrouw, they one and all determined that this was the destined end of their voyage.  Accordingly, they descended from the Goede Vrouw, men, women and children, in goodly groups, as did the animals of yore from the ark, and formed themselves into a thriving settlement, which they called by the Indian name Communipaw.

As all the world is doubtless perfectly acquainted with Communipaw, it may seem somewhat superfluous to treat of it in the present work; but my readers will please to recollect, that not withstanding it is my chief desire to satisfy the present age, yet I write likewise for posterity, and have to consult the understanding and curiosity of some half a score of centuries yet to come; by which time, perhaps, were it not for this invaluable history, the great Communipaw, like Babylon, Carthage, Nineveh, and other great cities, might be perfectly extinct ­sunk and forgotten in its own mud ­its inhabitants turned into oysters, and even its situation a fertile subject of learned controversy and hard-headed investigation among indefatigable historians.  Let me, then, piously rescue from oblivion the humble relics of a place which was the egg from whence was hatched the mighty city of New York!

Communipaw is at present but a small village, pleasantly situated among rural scenery, on that beauteous part of the Jersey shore which was known in ancient legends by the name of Pavonia, and commands a grand prospect of the superb bay of New York.  It is within but half an hour’s sail of the latter place, provided you have a fair wind, and may be distinctly seen from the city.  Nay, it is a well known fact, which I can testify from my own experience, that on a clear still summer evening you may hear from the battery of New York the obstreperous peals of broad-mouthed laughter of the Dutch negroes at Communipaw, who, like most other negroes, are famous for their risible powers.  This is peculiarly the case on Sunday evenings, when, it is remarked by an ingenious and observant philosopher, who has made great discoveries in the neighborhood of this city, that they always laugh loudest, which he attributes to the circumstance of their having their holiday clothes on.

These negroes, in fact, like the monks in the dark ages, engross all the knowledge of the place, and, being infinitely more adventurous, and more knowing than their masters, carry on all the foreign trade, making frequent voyages to town in canoes loaded with oysters, buttermilk and cabbages.  They are great astrologers, predicting the different changes of weather almost as accurately as an almanac; they are, moreover, exquisite performers on three-stringed fiddles; in whistling they almost boast the far-famed powers of Orpheus’ lyre, for not a horse nor an ox in the place, when at the plough or before the wagon, will budge a foot until he hears the well known whistle of his black driver and companion.  And from their amazing skill at casting up accounts upon their fingers they are regarded with as much veneration as were the disciples of Pythagoras of yore when initiated into the sacred quaternary of numbers.

As to the honest burghers of Communipaw, like wise men and sound philosophers, they never look beyond their pipes, nor trouble their heads about any affairs out of their immediate neighborhood; so that they live in profound and enviable ignorance of all the troubles, anxieties, and revolutions of this distracted planet.  I am even told that many among them do verily believe that Holland, of which they have heard so much from tradition, is situated somewhere on Long Island; that Spiking-devil and the Narrows are the two ends of the world; that the country is still under the dominion of their High Mightinesses, and that the city of New York still goes by the name of Nieuw Amsterdam.  They meet every Saturday afternoon at the only tavern in the place, which bears as a sign a square-headed likeness of the Prince of Orange, where they smoke a silent pipe by way of promoting social conviviality, and invariably drink a mug of cider to the success of Admiral Van Tromp, whom they imagine is still sweeping the British Channel with a broom at his masthead.

Communipaw, in short, is one of the numerous little villages in the vicinity of this most beautiful of cities, which are so many strongholds and fastnesses whither the primitive manners of our Dutch forefathers have retreated, and where they are cherished with devout and scrupulous strictness.  The dress of the original settlers is handed down inviolate from father to son ­the identical broad-brimmed hat, broad-skirted coat, and broad-bottomed breeches continue from generation to generation; and several gigantic knee-buckles of massy silver are still in wear that made gallant display in the days of the patriarchs of Communipaw.  The language likewise continues unadulterated by barbarous innovations; and so critically correct is the village schoolmaster in his dialect that his reading of a Low Dutch psalm has much the same effect on the nerves as the filing of a hand-saw.


Having in the trifling digression which concluded the last chapter discharged the filial duty which the city of New York owed to Communipaw, as being the mother settlement; and having given a faithful picture of it as it stands at present, I return with a soothing sentiment of self-approbation to dwell upon its early history.  The crew of the Goede Vrouw being soon reinforced by fresh importations from Holland, the settlement went jollily on increasing in magnitude and prosperity.  The neighboring Indians in a short time became accustomed to the uncouth sound of the Dutch language, and an intercourse gradually took place between them and the new comers.  The Indians were much given to long talks, and the Dutch to long silence; in this particular, therefore, they accommodated each other completely.  The chiefs would make long speeches about the big bull, the wabash, and the Great Spirit, to which the others would listen very attentively, smoke their pipes, and grunt yah, myn-her; whereat the poor savages were wondrously delighted.  They instructed the new settlers in the best art of curing and smoking tobacco, while the latter in return, made them drunk with true Hollands, and then taught them the art of making bargains.

A brisk trade for furs was soon opened.  The Dutch traders were scrupulously honest in their dealings, and purchased by weight, establishing it as an invariable table of avoirdupois that the hand of a Dutchman weighed one pound, and his foot two pounds.  It is true the simple Indians were often puzzled by the great disproportion between bulk and weight, for let them place a bundle of furs never so large in one scale, and a Dutchman put his hand or foot in the other, the bundle was sure to kick the beam; never was a package of furs known to weigh more than two pounds in the market of Communipaw!

This is a singular fact; but I have it direct from my great-great-grandfather, who had risen to considerable importance in the colony, being promoted to the office of weigh-master, on account of the uncommon heaviness of his foot.

The Dutch possessions in this part of the globe began now to assume a very thriving appearance, and were comprehended under the general title of Nieuw Nederlandts, on account, as the sage Vander Donck observes, of their great resemblance to the Dutch Netherlands, which indeed was truly remarkable, excepting that the former was rugged and mountainous, and the latter level and marshy.  About this time the tranquillity of the Dutch colonists was doomed to suffer a temporary interruption.  In 1614, Captain Sir Samuel Argal, sailing under a commission from Dale, Governor of Virginia, visited the Dutch settlements on Hudson River, and demanded their submission to the English crown and Virginian dominion.  To this arrogant demand, as they were in no condition to resist it, they submitted for the time, like discreet and reasonable men.

It does not appear that the valiant Argal molested the settlement of Communipaw; on the contrary, I am told that when his vessel first hove in sight, the worthy burghers were seized with such a panic that they fell to smoking their pipes with astonishing vehemence; insomuch that they quickly raised a cloud, which, combining with the surrounding woods and marshes, completely enveloped and concealed their beloved village, and overhung the fair regions of Pavonia ­so that the terrible Captain Argal passed on, totally unsuspicious that a sturdy little Dutch settlement lay snugly couched in the mud, under cover of all this pestilent vapor.  In commemoration of this fortunate escape, the worthy inhabitants have continued to smoke almost without intermission unto this very day, which is said to be the cause of the remarkable fog which often hangs over Communipaw of a clear afternoon.

Upon the departure of the enemy our magnanimous ancestors took full six months to recover their wind, having been exceedingly discomposed by the consternation and hurry of affairs.  They then called a council of safety to smoke over the state of the provinces.  At this council presided one Oloffe Van Kortlandt, who had originally been one of a set of peripatetic philosophers who passed much of their time sunning themselves on the side of the great canal of Amsterdam in Holland; enjoying, like Diogenes, a free and unencumbered estate in sunshine.  His name Kortlandt (Shortland or Lackland) was supposed, like that of the illustrious Jean Sansterre, to indicate that he had no land; but he insisted, on the contrary, that he had great landed estates somewhere in Terra Incognita; and he had come out to the new world to look after them.

Like all land speculators, he was much given to dreaming.  Never did anything extraordinary happen at Communipaw but he declared that he had previously dreamt it, being one of those infallible prophets who predict events after they have come to pass.  This supernatural gift was as highly valued among the burghers of Pavonia as among the enlightened nations of antiquity.  The wise Ulysses was more indebted to his sleeping than his waking moments for his most subtle achievements, and seldom undertook any great exploit without first soundly sleeping upon it; and the same may be said of Oloffe Van Kortlandt, who was thence aptly denominated Oloffe the Dreamer.

As yet his dreams and speculations had turned to little personal profit; and he was as much a lackland as ever.  Still he carried a high head in the community:  if his sugar-loaf hat was rather the worse for wear, he set it oft with a taller cock’s tail; if his shirt was none of the cleanest, he puffed it out the more at the bosom; and if the tail of it peeped out of a hole in his breeches, it at least proved that it really had a tail and was not a mere ruffle.

The worthy Van Kortlandt, in the council in question, urged the policy of emerging from the swamps of Communipaw and seeking some more eligible site for the seat of empire.  Such, he said, was the advice of the good St. Nicholas, who had appeared to him in a dream the night before, and whom he had known by his broad hat, his long pipe, and the resemblance which he bore to the figure on the bow of the Goede Vrouw.

Many have thought this dream was a mere invention of Oloffe Van Kortlandt, who, it is said, had ever regarded Communipaw with an evil eye, because he had arrived there after all the land had been shared out, and who was anxious to change the seat of empire to some new place, where he might be present at the distribution of “town lots.”  But we must not give heed to such insinuations, which are too apt to be advanced against those worthy gentlemen engaged in laying out towns and in other land speculations.

This perilous enterprise was to be conducted by Oloffe himself, who chose as lieutenants, or coadjutors, Mynheers Abraham Harden Broeck, Jacobus Van Zandt, and Winant Ten Broeck ­three indubitably great men, but of whose history, although I have made diligent inquiry, I can learn but little previous to their leaving Holland.  Nor need this occasion much surprise; for adventurers, like prophets, though they make great noise abroad, have seldom much celebrity in their own countries; but this much is certain that the overflowings and offscourings of a country are invariably composed of the richest parts of the soil.  And here I cannot help remarking how convenient it would be to many of our great men and great families of doubtful origin, could they have the privilege of the heroes of yore, who, whenever their origin was involved in obscurity, modestly announced themselves descended from a god, and who never visited a foreign country but what they told some cock-and-bull stories about their being kings and princes at home.  This venal trespass on the truth, though it has been occasionally played off by some pseudo marquis, baronet, and other illustrious foreigner, in our land of good-natured credulity, has been completely discountenanced in this sceptical, matter-of-fact age; and I even question whether any tender virgin, who was accidentally and unaccountably enriched with a bantling, would save her character at parlor firesides and evening tea-parties by ascribing the phenomenon to a swan, a shower of gold, or a river god.

Had I the benefit of mythology and classic fable above alluded to, I should have furnished the first of the trio with a pedigree equal to that of the proudest hero of antiquity.  His name, Van Zandt ­that is to say, from the dirt ­gave reasons to suppose that, like Triptolemus, Themis, the Cyclops, and the Titans, he had sprung from Dame Terra or the Earth!  This supposition is strongly corroborated by his size, for it is well known that all the progeny of Mother Earth were of a gigantic stature; and Van Zandt, we are told, was a tall, raw-boned man, above six feet high, with an astonishingly hard head.  Nor is this origin of the illustrious Van Zandt a whit more improbable or repugnant to belief than what is related and universally admitted of certain of our greatest, or rather richest, men, who we are told with the utmost gravity did originally spring from a dunghill!

Of the second of the trio but faint accounts have reached to this time, which mention that he was a sturdy, obstinate, worrying, bustling little man; and, from being usually equipped in an old pair of buckskins, was familiarly dubbed Harden Broeck, or Tough Breeches.

Ten Broeck completed this junto of adventurers.  It is a singular but ludicrous fact, which, were I not scrupulous in recording the whole truth, I should almost be tempted to pass over in silence, as incompatible with the gravity and dignity of history, that this worthy gentleman should likewise have been nicknamed from what in modern times is considered the most ignoble part of the dress.  But, in truth, the small-clothes seems to have been a very dignified garment in the eyes of our venerated ancestors, in all probability from its covering that part of the body which has been pronounced “the seat of honor.”

The name of Ten Broeck, or, as it was sometimes spelt, Tin Broeck, has been indifferently translated into Ten Breeches and Tin Breeches.  The most elegant and ingenious writers on the subject declare in favor of Tin, or rather Thin, Breeches; whence they infer that the original bearer of it was a poor but merry rogue, whose galligaskins were none of the soundest, and who, peradventure, may have been the author of that truly philosophical stanza: ­

    “Then why should we quarrel for riches,
      Or any such glittering toys? 
    A light heart and thin pair of breeches
      Will go through the world, my brave boys!”

The High Dutch commentators, however, declare in favor of the other reading, and affirm that the worthy in question was a burly, bulbous man, who, in sheer ostentation of his venerable progenitors, was the first to introduce into the settlement the ancient Dutch fashion of ten pair of breeches.

Such was the trio of coadjutors chosen by Oloffe the Dreamer to accompany him in this voyage into unknown realms; as to the names of his crews they have not been handed down by history.

Having, as I before observed, passed much of his life in the open air, among the peripatetic philosophers of Amsterdam, Oloffe had become familiar with the aspect of the heavens, and could as accurately determine when a storm was brewing or a squall rising as a dutiful husband can foresee, from the brow of his spouse, when a tempest is gathering about his ears.  Having pitched upon a time for his voyage, when the skies appeared propitious, he exhorted all his crews to take a good night’s rest, wind up their family affairs, and make their wills; precautions taken by our forefathers, even in after times when they became more adventurous, and voyaged to Haverstraw, or Kaatskill, or Groodt Esopus, or any other far country, beyond the great waters of the Tappen Zee.


And now the rosy blush of morn began to mantle in the east, and soon the rising sun, emerging from amidst golden and purple clouds, shed his blithesome rays on the tin weathercocks of Communipaw.  It was that delicious season of the year when Nature, breaking from the chilling thraldom of old winter, like a blooming damsel from the tyranny of a sordid old father, threw herself, blushing with ten thousand charms, into the arms of youthful Spring.  Every tufted copse and blooming grove resounded with the notes of hymeneal love.  The very insects, as they sipped the dew that gemmed the tender grass of the meadows, joined in the joyous epithalamium ­the virgin bud timidly put forth its blushes, “the voice of the turtle was heard in the land,” and the heart of man dissolved away in tenderness.  Oh, sweet Theocritus! had I thine oaten reed, wherewith thou erst did charm the gay Sicilian plains; or, oh, gentle Bion! thy pastoral pipe wherein the happy swains of the Lesbian isle so much delighted, then might I attempt to sing, in soft Bucolic or negligent Idyllium, the rural beauties of the scene; but having nothing, save this jaded goose-quill, wherewith to wing my flight, I must fain resign all poetic disportings of the fancy, and pursue my narrative in humble prose; comforting myself with the hope, that though it may not steal so sweetly upon the imagination of my reader, yet it may commend itself, with virgin modesty, to his better judgment, clothed in the chaste and simple garb of truth.

No sooner did the first rays of cheerful Phoebus dart into the windows of Communipaw than the little settlement was all in motion.  Forth issued from his castle the sage Van Kortlandt, and seizing a conch shell, blew a far-resounding blast, that soon summoned all his lusty followers.  Then did they trudge resolutely down to the water side, escorted by a multitude of relatives and friends, who all went down, as the common phrase expresses it, “to see them off.”  And this shows the antiquity of those long family processions, often seen in our city, composed of all ages, sizes, and sexes, laden with bundles and bandboxes, escorting some bevy of country cousins about to depart for home in a market-boat.

The good Oloffe bestowed his forces in a squadron of three canoes, and hoisted his flag on board a little round Dutch boat, shaped not unlike a tub, which had formerly been the jolly-boat of the Goede Vrouw.  And now, all being embarked, they bade farewell to the gazing throng upon the beach, who continued shouting after them, even when out of hearing, wishing them a happy voyage, advising them to take good care of themselves, not to get drowned ­with an abundance of other of those sage and invaluable cautions generally given by landsmen to such as go down to the sea in ships, and adventure upon the deep waters.  In the meanwhile the voyagers cheerily urged their course across the crystal bosom of the bay, and soon left behind them the green shores of ancient Pavonia.

And first they touched at two small islands which lie nearly opposite Communipaw, and which are said to have been brought into existence about the time of the great irruption of the Hudson, when it broke through the Highlands and made its way to the ocean. For, in this tremendous uproar of the waters we are told that many huge fragments of rock and land were rent from the mountains and swept down by this runaway river, for sixty or seventy miles; where some of them ran aground on the shoals just opposite Communipaw, and formed the identical islands in question, while others drifted out to sea, and were never heard of more.  A sufficient proof of the fact is, that the rock which forms the bases of these islands is exactly similar to that of the Highlands; and moreover, one of our philosophers, who has diligently compared the agreement of their respective surfaces, has even gone so far as to assure me, in confidence, that Gibbet Island was originally nothing more nor less than a wart on Anthony’s nose.

Leaving these wonderful little isles, they next coasted by Governor’s Island, since terrible from its frowning fortress and grinning batteries.  They would by no means, however, land upon this island, since they doubted much it might be the abode of demons and spirits, which in those days did greatly abound throughout this savage and pagan country.

Just at this time a shoal of jolly porpoises came rolling and tumbling by, turning up their sleek sides to the sun, and spouting up the briny element in sparkling showers.  No sooner did the sage Oloffe mark this than he was greatly rejoiced.  “This,” exclaimed he, “if I mistake not, augurs well ­the porpoise is a fat, well-conditioned fish ­a burgomaster among fishes ­his looks betoken ease, plenty, and prosperity.  I greatly admire this round fat fish, and doubt not but this is a happy omen of the success of our undertaking.”  So saying, he directed his squadron to steer in the track of these alderman fishes.

Turning, therefore, directly to the left, they swept up the strait, vulgarly called the East River.  And here the rapid tide which courses through this strait, seizing on the gallant tub in which Commodore Van Kortlandt had embarked, hurried it forward with a velocity unparalleled in a Dutch boat, navigated by Dutchmen; insomuch that the good commodore, who had all his life long been accustomed only to the drowsy navigation of canals, was more than ever convinced that they were in the hands of some supernatural power, and that the jolly porpoises were towing them to some fair haven that was to fulfill all their wishes and expectations.

Thus borne away by the resistless current, they doubled that boisterous point of land since called Corlear’s Hook, and leaving to the right the rich winding cove of the Wallabout, they drifted into a magnificent expanse of water, surrounded by pleasant shores, whose verdure was exceedingly refreshing to the eye.  While the voyagers were looking around them, on what they conceived to be a serene and sunny lake, they beheld at a distance a crew of painted savages busily employed in fishing, who seemed more like the genii of this romantic region ­their slender canoe lightly balanced like a feather on the undulating surface of the bay.

At sight of these the hearts of the heroes of Communipaw were not a little troubled.  But as good fortune would have it, at the bow of the commodore’s boat was stationed a valiant man, named Hendrick Kip (which, being interpreted, means chicken, a name given him in token of his courage).

No sooner did he behold these varlet heathens, than he trembled with excessive valor, and although a good half mile distant, he seized a musketoon that lay at hand, and turning away his head, fired it most intrepidly in the face of the blessed sun.  The blundering weapon recoiled, and gave the valiant Kip an ignominious kick, which laid him prostrate with uplifted heels in the bottom of the boat.  But such was the effect of this tremendous fire, that the wild men of the woods, struck with consternation, seized hastily upon their paddles, and shot away into one of the deep inlets of the Long Island shore.

This signal victory gave new spirits to the voyagers, and in honor of the achievement they gave the name of the valiant Kip to the surrounding bay, and it has continued to be called Kip’s Bay from that time to the present.  The heart of the good Van Kortlandt ­who, having no land of his own, was a great admirer of other people’s ­expanded to the full size of a peppercorn at the sumptuous prospect of rich unsettled country around him, and falling into a delicious reverie, he straightway began to riot in the possession of vast meadows of salt marsh and interminable patches of cabbages.  From this delectable vision he was all at once awakened by the sudden turning of the tide, which would soon have hurried him from this land of promise, had not the discreet navigator given signal to steer for shore; where they accordingly landed hard by the rocky heights of Bellevue ­that happy retreat where our jolly aldermen eat for the good of the city, and fatten the turtle that are sacrificed on civic solemnities.

Here, seated on the greensward, by the side of a small stream that ran sparkling among the grass, they refreshed themselves after the toils of the seas by feasting lustily on the ample stores which they had provided for this perilous voyage.  Thus having well fortified their deliberate powers, they fell into an earnest consultation what was further to be done.  This was the first council dinner ever eaten at Bellevue by Christian burghers; and here, as tradition relates, did originate the great family feud between the Hardenbroecks and the Tenbroecks, which afterwards had a singular influence on the building of the city.  The sturdy Harden Broeck, whose eyes had been wondrously delighted with the salt marshes which spread their reeking bosoms along the coast, at the bottom of Kip’s Bay, counseled by all means to return thither, and found the intended city.  This was strenuously opposed by the unbending Ten Broeck, and many testy arguments passed between them.  The particulars of this controversy have not reached us, which is ever to be lamented; this much is certain, that the sage Oloffe put an end to the dispute, by determining to explore still farther in the route which the mysterious porpoises had so clearly pointed out; whereupon the sturdy Tough Breeches abandoned the expedition, took possession of a neighboring hill, and in a fit of great wrath peopled all that tract of country, which has continued to be inhabited by the Hardenbroecks unto this very day.

By this time the jolly Phoebus, like some wanton urchin sporting on the side of a green hill, began to roll down the declivity of the heavens; and now, the tide having once more turned in their favor, the Pavonians again committed themselves to its discretion, and coasting along the western shores, were borne towards the straits of Blackwell’s Island.

And here the capricious wanderings of the current occasioned not a little marvel and perplexity to these illustrious mariners.  Now would they be caught by the wanton eddies, and, sweeping round a jutting point, would wind deep into some romantic little cove, that indented the fair island of Manna-hata; now were they hurried narrowly by the very bases of impending rocks, mantled with the flaunting grape-vine, and crowned with groves, which threw a broad shade on the waves beneath; and anon they were borne away into the mid-channel and wafted along with a rapidity that very much discomposed the sage Van Kortlandt, who, as he saw the land swiftly receding on either side, began exceedingly to doubt that terra firma was giving them the slip.

Wherever the voyagers turned their eyes a new creation seemed to bloom around.  No signs of human thrift appeared to check the delicious wildness of Nature, who here reveled in all her luxuriant variety.  Those hills, now bristled like the fretful porcupine, with rows of poplars (vain upstart plants! minions of wealth and fashion!), were then adorned with the vigorous natives of the soil ­the lordly oak, the generous chestnut, the graceful elm ­while here and there the tulip-tree reared its majestic head, the giant of the forest.  Where now are seen the gay retreats of luxury ­villas half buried in twilight bowers, whence the amorous flute oft breathes the sighings of some city swain ­there the fish-hawk built his solitary nest, on some dry tree that overlooked his watery domain.  The timid deer fed undisturbed along those shores now hallowed by the lover’s moonlight walk, and printed by the slender foot of beauty; and a savage solitude extended over those happy regions, where now are reared the stately towers of the Joneses, the Schermerhornes, and the Rhinelanders.

Thus gliding in silent wonder through these new and unknown scenes, the gallant squadron of Pavonia swept by the foot of a promontory, which strutted forth boldly into the waves, and seemed to frown upon them as they brawled against its base.  This is the bluff well known to modern mariners by the name of Gracie’s Point, from the fair castle which, like an elephant, it carries upon its back.  And here broke upon their view a wild and varied prospect, where land and water were beauteously intermingled, as though they had combined to heighten and set off each other’s charms.  To their right lay the sedgy point of Blackwell’s Island, dressed in the fresh garniture of living green; beyond it stretched the pleasant coast of Sundswick, and the small harbor well known by the name of Hallet’s Cove ­a place infamous in latter days, by reason of its being the haunt of pirates who infest these seas, robbing orchards and water-melon patches, and insulting gentlemen navigators when voyaging in their pleasure boats.  To the left a deep bay, or rather creek, gracefully receded between shores fringed with forests, and forming a kind of vista through which were beheld the sylvan regions of Haerlem, Morrissania, and East Chester.  Here the eye reposed with delight on a richly weeded country, diversified by tufted knolls, shadowy intervals, and waving lines of upland, swelling above each other; while over the whole the purple mists of spring diffused a hue of soft voluptuousness.

Just before them the grand course of the stream, making a sudden bend, wound among embowered promontories and shores of emerald verdure that seemed to melt into the wave.  A character of gentleness and mild fertility prevailed around.  The sun had just descended, and the thin haze of twilight, like a transparent veil drawn over the bosom of virgin beauty, heightened the charms which it half concealed.

Ah! witching scenes of foul delusion!  Ah! hapless voyagers, gazing with simple wonder on these Circean shores!  Such, alas! are they, poor easy souls, who listen to the seductions of a wicked world; treacherous are its smiles, fatal its caresses!  He who yields to its enticements launches upon a whelming tide, and trusts his feeble bark among the dimpling eddies of a whirlpool!  And thus it fared with the worthies of Pavonia, who, little mistrusting the guileful sense before them, drifted quietly on, until they were aroused by an uncommon tossing and agitation of their vessels.  For now the late dimpling current began to brawl around them, and the waves to boil and foam with horrible fury.  Awakened as if from a dream, the astonished Oloffe bawled aloud to put about, but his words were lost amid the roaring of the waters.  And now ensued a scene of direful consternation.  At one time they were borne with dreadful velocity among tumultuous breakers; at another, hurried down boisterous rapids.  Now they were nearly dashed upon the Hen and Chickens (infamous rocks! more voracious than Scylla and her whelps!); and anon they seemed sinking into yawning gulfs, that threatened to entomb them beneath the waves.  All the elements combined to produce a hideous confusion.  The waters raged ­the winds howled ­and as they were hurried along several of the astonished mariners beheld the rocks and trees of the neighboring shores driving through the air!

At length the mighty tub of Commodore Van Kortlandt was drawn into the vortex of that tremendous whirlpool called the Pot, where it was whirled about in giddy mazes, until the senses of the good commander and his crew were overpowered by the horror of the scene, and the strangeness of the revolution.

How the gallant squadron of Pavonia was snatched from the jaws of this modern Charybdis has never been truly made known, for so many survived to tell the tale, and, what is still more wonderful, told it in so many different ways, that there has ever prevailed a great variety of opinions on the subject.

As to the commodore and his crew, when they came to their senses they found themselves stranded on the Long Island shore.  The worthy commodore, indeed, used to relate many and wonderful stories of his adventures in this time of peril; how that he saw specters flying in the air, and heard the yelling of hobgoblins, and put his hand into the pot when they were whirled round, and found the water scalding hot, and beheld several uncouth-looking beings seated on rocks and skimming it with huge ladles; but particularly he declared with great exultation, that he saw the losel porpoises, which had betrayed them into this peril, some broiling on the Gridiron, and others hissing on the Frying-pan!

These, however, were considered by many as mere phantasies of the commodore, while he lay in a trance, especially as he was known to be given to dreaming; and the truth of them has never been clearly ascertained.  It is certain, however, that to the accounts of Oloffe and his followers may be traced the various traditions handed down of this marvelous strait ­as how the devil has been seen there, sitting astride of the Hog’s Back and playing on the fiddle ­how he broils fish there before a storm; and many other stories, in which we must be cautious of putting too much faith.  In consequence of all these terrific circumstances, the Pavonian commander gave this pass the name of Helle-gat, or, as it has been interpreted, Hell-gate; which it continues to bear at the present day.


The darkness of night had closed upon this disastrous day, and a doleful night was it to the shipwrecked Pavonians, whose ears were incessantly assailed with the raging of the elements, and the howling of the hobgoblins that infested this perfidious strait.  But when the morning dawned the horrors of the preceding evening had passed away, rapids, breakers and whirlpools had disappeared, the stream again ran smooth and dimpling, and having changed its tide, rolled gently back towards the quarter where lay their much regretted home.

The woebegone heroes of Communipaw eyed each other with rueful countenances; their squadrons had been totally dispersed by the late disaster.  Some were cast upon the western shore, where, headed by one Ruleff Hopper, they took possession of all the country lying about the six-mile-stone, which is held by the Hoppers at this present writing.

The Waldrons were driven by stress of weather to a distant coast, where, having with them a jug of genuine Hollands, they were enabled to conciliate the savages, setting up a kind of tavern; whence, it is said, did spring the fair town of Haerlem, in which their descendants have ever since continued to be reputable publicans.  As to the Suydams, they were thrown upon the Long Island coast, and may still be found in those parts.  But the most singular luck attended the great Ten Broeck, who, falling overboard, was miraculously preserved from sinking by the multitude of his nether garments.  Thus buoyed up, he floated on the waves like a merman, or like an angler’s dobber, until he landed safely on a rock, where he was found the next morning busily drying his many breeches in the sunshine.

I forbear to treat of the long consultation of Oloffe with his remaining followers, in which they determined that it would never do to found a city in so diabolical a neighborhood.  Suffice it in simple brevity to say, that they once more committed themselves, with fear and trembling, to the briny element, and steered their course back again through the scenes of their yesterday’s voyage, determined no longer to roam in search of distant sites, but to settle themselves down in the marshy regions of Pavonia.

Scarce, however, had they gained a distant view of Communipaw, when they were encountered by an obstinate eddy, which opposed their homeward voyage.  Weary and dispirited as they were, they yet tugged a feeble oar against the stream; until, as if to settle the strife, half a score of potent billows rolled the tub of Commodore Van Kortlandt high and dry on the long point of an island which divided the bosom of the bay.

Some pretend that these billows were sent by old Neptune to strand the expedition on a spot whereon was to be founded his stronghold in this western world; others, more pious, attribute everything to the guardianship of the good St. Nicholas; and after events will be found to corroborate this opinion.  Oloffe Van Kortlandt was a devout trencherman.  Every repast was a kind of religious rite with him; and his first thought on finding him once more on dry ground was how he should contrive to celebrate his wonderful escape from Hell-gate and all its horrors by a solemn banquet.  The stores which had been provided for the voyage by the good housewives of Communipaw were nearly exhausted; but in casting his eyes about the commodore beheld that the shore abounded with oysters.  A great store of these was instantly collected; a fire was made at the foot of a tree; all hands fell to roasting, and broiling, and stewing, and frying, and a sumptuous repast was soon set forth.  This is thought to be the origin of those civic feasts with which, to the present day, all our public affairs are celebrated, and in which the oyster is ever sure to play an important part.

On the present occasion the worthy Van Kortlandt was observed to be particularly zealous in his devotions to the trencher; for having the cares of the expedition especially committed to his care he deemed it incumbent on him to eat profoundly for the public good.  In proportion as he filled himself to the very brim with the dainty viands before him did the heart of this excellent burgher rise up towards his throat, until he seemed crammed and almost choked with good eating and good nature.  And at such times it is, when a man’s heart is in his throat, that he may more truly be said to speak from it, and his speeches abound with kindness and good fellowship.  Thus, having swallowed the last possible morsel, and washed it down with a fervent potation, Oloffe felt his heart yearning, and his whole frame in a manner dilating with unbounded benevolence.  Everything around him seemed excellent and delightful; and laying his hands on each side of his capacious periphery, and rolling his half-closed eyes around on the beautiful diversity of land and water before him, he exclaimed, in a fat, half-smothered voice, “What a charming prospect!” The words died away in his throat ­he seemed to ponder on the fair scene for a moment ­his eyelids heavily closed over their orbs ­his head drooped upon his bosom ­he slowly sank upon the green turf, and a deep sleep stole gradually over him.

And the sage Oloffe dreamed a dream ­and, lo! the good St. Nicholas came riding over the tops of the trees, in that self-same wagon wherein he brings his yearly presents to children.  And he descended hard by where the heroes of Communipaw had made their late repast.  And he lit his pipe by the fire, and sat himself down and smoked; and as he smoked the smoke from his pipe ascended into the air, and spread like a cloud overhead.  And Oloffe bethought him, and he hastened and climbed up to the top of one of the tallest trees, and saw that the smoke spread over a great extent of country ­and as he considered it more attentively he fancied that the great volume of smoke assumed a variety of marvelous forms, where in dim obscurity he saw shadowed out palaces and domes and lofty spires, all of which lasted but a moment, and then faded away, until the whole rolled off, and nothing but the green woods were left.  And when St. Nicholas had smoked his pipe he twisted it in his hatband, and laying his finger beside his nose, gave the astonished Van Kortlandt a very significant look, then mounting his wagon, he returned over the treetops and disappeared.

And Van Kortlandt awoke from his sleep greatly instructed, and he aroused his companions, and related to them his dream, and interpreted it that it was the will of St. Nicholas that they should settle down and build the city here; and that the smoke of the pipe was a type how vast would be the extent of the city, inasmuch as the volumes of its smoke would spread over a wide extent of country.  And they all with one voice assented to this interpretation excepting Mynheer Ten Broeck, who declared the meaning to be that it would be a city wherein a little fire would occasion a great smoke, or, in other words, a very vaporing little city ­both which interpretations have strangely come to pass!

The great object of their perilous expedition, therefore, being thus happily accomplished, the voyagers returned merrily to Communipaw, where they were received with great rejoicings.  And here calling a general meeting of all the wise men and the dignitaries of Pavonia, they related the whole history of their voyage, and of the dream of Oloffe Van Kortlandt.  And the people lifted up their voices and blessed the good St. Nicholas, and from that time forth the sage Van Kortlandt was held in more honor than ever, for his great talent at dreaming, and was pronounced a most useful citizen, and a right good man ­when he was asleep.


The original name of the island whereon the squadron of Communipaw was thus propitiously thrown is a matter of some dispute, and has already undergone considerable vitiation ­a melancholy proof of the instability of all sublunary things, and the vanity of all our hopes of lasting fame; for who can expect his name will live to posterity, when even the names of mighty islands are thus soon lost in contradiction and uncertainty!

The name most current at the present day, and which is likewise countenanced by the great historian Vander Donck, is Manhattan, which is said to have originated in a custom among the squaws, in the early settlement, of wearing men’s hats, as is still done among many tribes.  “Hence,” as we are told by an old governor, who was somewhat of a wag, and flourished almost a century since, and had paid a visit to the wits of Philadelphia, “hence arose the appellation of man-hat-on, first given to the Indians, and afterwards to the island” ­a stupid joke! ­but well enough for a governor.

Among the more venerable sources of information on this subject is that valuable history of the American possessions, written by Master Richard Blome, in 1687, wherein it is called the Manhadaes and Manahanent; nor must I forget the excellent little book, full of precious matter, of that authentic historian, John Josselyn, gent., who expressly calls it Manadaes.

Another etymology still more ancient, and sanctioned by the countenance of our ever to be lamented Dutch ancestors, is that found in certain letters, still extant, which passed between the early governors and their neighboring powers, wherein it is called indifferently Monhattoes, Munhatos, and Manhattoes, which are evidently unimportant variations of the same name; for our wise forefathers set little store by those niceties, either in orthography or orthoepy, which form the sole study and ambition of many learned men and women of this hypercritical age.  This last name is said to be derived from the great Indian spirit Manetho, who was supposed to make this island his favorite abode, on account of its uncommon delights.  For the Indian traditions affirm that the bay was once a translucid lake, filled with silver and golden fish, in the midst of which lay this beautiful island, covered with every variety of fruits and flowers, but that the sudden irruption of the Hudson laid waste these blissful scenes, and Manetho took his flight beyond the great waters of Ontario.

These, however, are very fabulous legends, to which very cautious credence must be given; and though I am willing to admit the last quoted orthography of the name as very fit for prose, yet is there another which I peculiarly delight in, as at once poetical, melodious, and significant ­and which we have on the authority of Master Juet, who, in his account of the voyage of the great Hudson, calls this Manna-hata ­that is to say, the island of manna ­or, in other words, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Still my deference to the learned obliges me to notice the opinion of the worthy Dominie Heckwelder, which ascribes the name to a great drunken bout, held on the island by the Dutch discoverers, whereat they made certain of the natives most ecstatically drunk for the first time in their lives; who, being delighted with their jovial entertainment, gave the place the name of Mannahattanink ­that is to say, the Island of Jolly Topers ­a name which it continues to merit to the present day.


It having been solemnly resolved that the seat of empire should be removed from the green shores of Pavonia to the pleasant island of Manna-hata, everybody was anxious to embark under the standard of Oloffe the Dreamer, and to be among the first sharers of the promised land.  A day was appointed for the grand migration, and on that day little Communipaw as in a buzz and a bustle like a hive in swarming time.  Houses were turned inside out, and stripped of the venerable furniture which had come from Holland; all the community, great and small, black and white, man, woman, and child, was in commotion, forming lines from the houses to the water side, like lines of ants from an ant-hill; everybody laden with some article of household furniture; while busy housewifes plied backwards and forwards along the lines, helping everything forward by the nimbleness of their tongues.

By degrees a fleet of boats and canoes were piled up with all kinds of household articles; ponderous tables; chests of drawers, resplendent with brass ornaments, quaint corner cupboards; beds and bedsteads; with any quantity of pots, kettles, frying-pans, and Dutch ovens.  In each boat embarked a whole family, from the robustious burgher down to the cats and dogs and little negroes.  In this way they set off across the mouth of the Hudson, under the guidance of Oloffe the Dreamer, who hoisted his standard on the leading boat.

This memorable migration took place on the first of May, and was long cited in tradition as the grand moving.  The anniversary of it was piously observed among the “sons of the pilgrims of Communipaw,” by turning their houses topsy-turvy, and carrying all the furniture through the streets, in emblem of the swarming of the parent hive; and this is the real origin of the universal agitation and “moving” by which this most restless of cities is literally turned out of doors on every May-day.

As the little squadron from Communipaw drew near to the shores of Manna-hata, a sachem, at the head of a band of warriors, appeared to oppose their landing.  Some of the most zealous of the pilgrims were for chastising this insolence with the powder and ball, according to the approved mode of discoverers; but the sage Oloffe gave them the significant sign of St. Nicholas, laying his finger beside his nose and winking hard with one eye; whereupon his followers perceived that there was something sagacious in the wind.  He now addressed the Indians in the blandest terms, and made such tempting display of beads, hawks’s bells, and red blankets, that he was soon permitted to land, and a great land speculation ensued.  And here let me give the true story of the original purchase of the site of this renowned city, about which so much has been said and written.  Some affirm that the first cost was, but sixty guilders.  The learned Dominie Heckwelder records a tradition that the Dutch discoverers bargained for only so much land as the hide of a bullock would cover; but that they cut the hide in strips no thicker than a child’s finger, so as to take in a large portion of land, and to take in the Indians into the bargain This, however, is an old fable which the worthy Dominie may have borrowed from antiquity.  The true version is, that Oloffe Van Kortlandt bargained for just so much land as a man could cover with his nether garments.  The terms being concluded, he produced his friend Mynheer Ten Broeck, as the man whose breeches were to be used in measurement.  The simple savages, whose ideas of a man’s nether garments had never expanded beyond the dimensions of a breech clout, stared with astonishment and dismay as they beheld this bulbous-bottomed burgher peeled like an onion, and breeches after breeches spread forth over the land until they covered the actual site of this venerable city.

This is the true history of the adroit bargain by which the Island of Manhattan was bought for sixty guilders; and in corroboration of it I will add that Mynheer Ten Breeches, for his services on this memorable occasion, was elevated to the office of land measurer; which he ever afterwards exercised in the colony.


The land being thus fairly purchased of the Indians, a circumstance very unusual in the history of colonization, and strongly illustrative of the honesty of our Dutch progenitors, a stockade fort and trading house were forthwith erected on an eminence in front of the place where the good St. Nicholas had appeared in a vision to Oloffe the Dreamer; and which, as has already been observed, was the identical place at present known as the Bowling Green.

Around this fort a progeny of little Dutch-built houses, with tiled roofs and weathercocks, soon sprang up, nestling themselves under its walls for protection, as a brood of half-fledged chickens nestle under the wings of the mother hen.  The whole was surrounded by an enclosure of strong palisadoes, to guard against any sudden irruption of the savages.  Outside of these extended the corn-fields and cabbage-gardens of the community, with here and there an attempt at a tobacco plantation; all covering those tracts of country at present called Broadway, Wall Street, William Street, and Pearl Street, I must not omit to mention, that in portioning out the land a goodly “bowerie” or farm was allotted to the sage Oloffe, in consideration of the service he had rendered to the public by his talent at dreaming; and the site of his “bowerie” is known by the name of Kortlandt (or Cortland) Street to the present day.

And now the infant settlement having advanced in age and stature, it was thought high time it should receive an honest Christian name.  Hitherto it had gone by the original Indian name of Manna-hata, or, as some will have it, “The Manhattoes;” but this was now decried as savage and heathenish, and as tending to keep up the memory of the pagan brood that originally possessed it.  Many were the consultations held upon the subject without coming to a conclusion, for though everybody condemned the old name, nobody could invent a new one.  At length, when the council was almost in despair, a burgher, remarkable for the size and squareness of his head, proposed that they should call it New Amsterdam.  The proposition took everybody by surprise; it was so striking, so apposite, so ingenious.  The name was adopted by acclamation, and New Amsterdam the metropolis was thenceforth called.  Still, however, the early authors of the province continued to call it by the general appelation of “The Manhattoes,” and the poets fondly clung to the euphonious name of Manna-hata; but those are a kind of folk whose tastes and notions should go for nothing in matters of this kind.

Having thus provided the embryo city with a name, the next was to give it an armorial bearing or device, as some cities have a rampant lion, others a soaring eagle; emblematical, no doubt, of the valiant and high-flying qualities of the inhabitants:  so after mature deliberation a sleek beaver was emblazoned on the city standard as indicative of the amphibious origin and patient persevering habits of the New Amsterdamers.

The thriving state of the settlement and the rapid increase of houses soon made it necessary to arrange some plan upon which the city should be built; but at the very first consultation on the subject a violent discussion arose; and I mention it with much sorrowing as being the first altercation on record in the councils of New Amsterdam.  It was, in fact, a breaking forth of the grudge and heart-burning that had existed between those two eminent burghers, Mynheers Ten Broeck and Harden Broeck, ever since their unhappy dispute on the coast of Bellevue.  The great Harden Broeck had waxed very wealthy and powerful from his domains, which embraced the whole chain of Apulean mountains that stretched along the gulf of Kip’s Bay, and from part of which his descendants have been expelled in latter ages by the powerful clans of the Joneses and the Schermerhornes.

An ingenious plan for the city was offered by Mynheer Harden Broeck, who proposed that it should be cut up and intersected by canals, after the manner of the most admired cities in Holland.  To this Mynheer Ten Broeck was diametrically opposed, suggesting in place thereof that they should run out docks and wharves, by means of piles driven into the bottom of the river, on which the town should be built.  “By these means,” said he, triumphantly, “shall we rescue a considerable space of territory from these immense rivers, and build a city that shall rival Amsterdam, Venice, or any amphibious city in Europe.”  To this proposition Harden Broeck (or Tough Breeches) replied, with a look of as much scorn as he could possibly assume.  He cast the utmost censure upon the plan of his antagonist, as being preposterous, and against the very order of things, as he would leave to every true Hollander.  “For what,” said he, “is a town without canals? ­it is like a body without veins and arteries, and must perish for want of a free circulation of the vital fluid.” ­Ten Breeches, on the contrary, retorted with a sarcasm upon his antagonist, who was somewhat of an arid, dry-boded habit; he remarked, that as to the circulation of the blood being necessary to existence, Mynheer Tough Breeches was a living contradiction to his own assertion; for everybody knew there had not a drop of blood circulated through his wind-dried carcase for good ten years, and yet there was not a greater busybody in the whole colony.  Personalities have seldom much effect in making converts in argument; nor have I ever seen a man convinced of error by being convicted of deformity.  At least such was not the case at present.  If Ten Breeches was very happy in sarcasm, Tough Breeches, who was a sturdy little man, and never gave up the last word, rejoined with increasing spirit; Ten Breeches had the advantage of the greatest volubility, but Tough Breeches had that invaluable coat of mail in argument called obstinacy; Ten Breeches had, therefore, the most mettle, but Tough Breeches the best bottom ­so that though Ten Breeches made a dreadful clattering about his ears, and battered and belabored him with hard words and sound arguments, yet Tough Breeches hung on most resolutely to the last.  They parted, therefore, as is usual in all arguments where both parties are in the right, without coming to any conclusion; but they hated each other most heartily for ever after, and a similar breach with that between the houses of Capulet and Montague did ensue between the families of Ten Breeches and Tough Breeches.

I would not fatigue my reader with these dull matters of fact, but that my duty as a faithful historian requires that I should be particular; and, in truth, as I am now treating of the critical period when our city, like a young twig, first received the twists and turns which have since contributed to give it its present picturesque irregularity, I cannot be too minute in detailing their first causes.

After the unhappy altercation I have just mentioned, I do not find that anything further was said on the subject worthy of being recorded.  The council, consisting of the largest and oldest heads in the community, met regularly once a week, to ponder on this momentous subject; but, either they were deterred by the war of words they had witnessed, or they were naturally averse to the exercise of the tongue, and the consequent exercise of the brains ­certain it is, the most profound silence was maintained ­the question, as usual, lay on the table ­the members quietly smoked their pipes, making but few laws, without ever enforcing any, and in the meantime the affairs of the settlement went on ­as it pleased God.

As most of the council were but little skilled in the mystery of combining pot-hooks and hangers, they determined most judiciously not to puzzle either themselves or posterity with voluminous records.  The secretary, however, kept the minutes of the council with tolerable precision, in a large vellum folio, fastened with massy brass clasps; the journal of each meeting consisted but of two lines, stating in Dutch that “the council sat this day, and smoked twelve pipes on the affairs of the colony.”  By which it appears that the first settlers did not regulate their time by hours, but pipes, in the same manner as they measure distances in Holland at this very time; an admirably exact measurement, as a pipe in the mouth of a true-born Dutchman is never liable to those accidents and irregularities that are continually putting our clocks out of order.

In this manner did the profound council of New Amsterdam smoke, and doze, and ponder, from week to week, month to month, and year to year, in what manner they should construct their infant settlement; meanwhile the town took care of itself, and, like a sturdy brat which is suffered to run about wild, unshackled by clouts and bandages, and other abominations by which your notable nurses and sage old women cripple and disfigure the children of men, increased so rapidly in strength and magnitude, that before the honest burgomasters had determined upon a plan it was too late to put it in execution ­whereupon they wisely abandoned the subject altogether.


There is something exceedingly delusive in thus looking back, through the long vista of departed years, and catching a glimpse of the fairy realms of antiquity.  Like a landscape melting into distance, they receive a thousand charms from their very obscurity, and the fancy delights to fill up their outlines with graces and excellences of its own creation.  Thus loom on my imagination those happier days of our city, when as yet New Amsterdam was a mere pastoral town, shrouded in groves of sycamores and willows, and surrounded by trackless forests and wide-spreading waters, that seemed to shut out all the cares and vanities of a wicked world.

In those days did this embryo city present the rare and noble spectacle of a community governed without laws; and thus being left to its own course, and the fostering care of Providence, increased as rapidly as though it had been burdened with a dozen panniers full of those sage laws usually heaped on the backs of young cities ­in order to make them grow.  And in this particular I greatly admire the wisdom and sound knowledge of human nature displayed by the sage Oloffe the Dreamer and his fellow legislators.  For my part, I have not so bad an opinion of mankind as many of my brother philosophers.  I do not think poor human nature so sorry a piece of workmanship as they would make it out to be; and as far as I have observed, I am fully satisfied that man, if left to himself, would about as readily go right as wrong.  It is only this eternally sounding in his ears that it is his duty to go right which makes him go the very reverse.  The noble independence of his nature revolts at this intolerable tyranny of law, and the perpetual interference of officious morality, which are ever besetting his path with finger-posts and directions to “keep to the right, as the law directs;” and like a spirited urchin, he turns directly contrary, and gallops through mud and mire, over hedges and ditches, merely to show that he is a lad of spirit, and out of his leading-strings.  And these opinions are amply substantiated by what I have above said of our worthy ancestors; who never being be-preached and be-lectured, and guided and governed by statutes and laws and by-laws, as are their more enlightened descendants, did one and all demean themselves honestly and peaceably, out of pure ignorance, or, in other words ­because they knew no better.

Nor must I omit to record one of the earliest measures of this infant settlement, inasmuch as it shows the piety of our forefathers, and that, like good Christians, they were always ready to serve God, after they had first served themselves.  Thus, having quietly settled themselves down, and provided for their own comfort, they bethought themselves of testifying their gratitude to the great and good St. Nicholas, for his protecting care in guiding them to this delectable abode.  To this end they built a fair and goodly chapel within the fort, which they consecrated to his name; whereupon he immediately took the town of New Amsterdam under his peculiar patronage, and he has even since been, and I devoutly hope will ever be, the tutelar saint of this excellent city.

At this early period was instituted that pious ceremony, still religiously observed in all our ancient families of the right breed, of hanging up a stocking in the chimney on St. Nicholas Eve; which stocking is always found in the morning miraculously filled; for the good St. Nicholas has ever been a great giver of gifts, particularly to children.

I am moreover told that there is a little legendary book somewhere extant, written in Low Dutch, which says that the image of this renowned saint, which whilom graced the bow-sprit of the Goede Vrouw, was elevated in front of this chapel, in the center of what in modern days is called the Bowling Green ­on the very spot, in fact, where he appeared in vision to Oloffe the Dreamer.  And the legend further treats of divers miracles wrought by the mighty pipe which the saint held in his mouth; a whiff of which was a sovereign cure for an indigestion ­an invaluable relic in this colony of brave trenchermen.  As however, in spite of the most diligent search, I cannot lay my hands upon this little book, I must confess that I entertain considerable doubt on the subject.

Thus benignly fostered by the good St. Nicholas, the infant city thrived apace.  Hordes of painted savages, it is true, still lurked about the unsettled parts of the island.  The hunter still pitched his bower of skins and bark beside the rills that ran through the cool and shady glens, while here and there might be seen, on some sunny knoll, a group of Indian wigwams whose smoke arose above the neighboring trees, and floated in the transparent atmosphere.  A mutual good-will, however, existed between these wandering beings and the burghers of New Amsterdam.  Our benevolent forefathers endeavored as much as possible to ameliorate their situation, by giving them gin, rum, and glass beads, in exchange for their peltries; for it seems the kind-hearted Dutchmen had conceived a great friendship for their savage neighbors, on account of their being pleasant men to trade with, and little skilled in the art of making a bargain.

Now and then a crew of these half human sons of the forest would make their appearance in the streets of New Amsterdam, fantastically painted and decorated with beads and flaunting feathers, sauntering about with an air of listless indifference ­sometimes in the marketplace, instructing the little Dutch boys in the use of the bow and arrow ­at other times, inflamed with liquor, swaggering, and whooping, and yelling about the town like so many fiends, to the great dismay of all the good wives, who would hurry their children into the house, fasten the doors, and throw water upon the enemy from the garret windows.  It is worthy of mention here that our forefathers were very particular in holding up these wild men as excellent domestic examples ­and for reasons that may be gathered from the history of Master Ogilby, who tells us that “for the least offence the bridegroom soundly beats his wife and turns her out of doors, and marries another, insomuch that some of them have every year a new wife.”  Whether this awful example had any influence or not history does not mention; but it is certain that our grandmothers were miracles of fidelity and obedience.

True it is that the good understanding between our ancestors and their savage neighbors was liable to occasional interruptions, and I have heard my grandmother, who was a very wise old woman, and well versed in the history of these parts, tell a long story of a winter’s evening, about a battle between the New-Amsterdammers and the Indians, which was known by the name of the Peach War, and which took place near a peach orchard, in a dark glen, which for a long while went by the name of Murderer’s Valley.

The legend of this sylvan war was long current among the nurses, old wives, and other ancient chroniclers of the place; but time and improvement have almost obliterated both the tradition and the scene of battle; for what was once the blood-stained valley is now in the center of this populous city, and known by the name of Dey Street.

I know not whether it was to this “Peach War,” and the acquisitions of Indian land which may have grown out of it, that we may ascribe the first seeds of the spirit of “annexation” which now began to manifest themselves.  Hitherto the ambition of the worthy burghers had been confined to the lovely island of Manna-hata; and Spiten Devil on the Hudson, and Hell-gate on the Sound, were to them the pillars of Hercules, the ne plus ultra of human enterprise.  Shortly after the Peach War however, a restless spirit was observed among the New Amsterdammers, who began to cast wistful looks upon the wild lands of their Indian neighbors; for somehow or other wild Indian land always looks greener in the eyes of settlers than the land they occupy.  It is hinted that Oloffe the Dreamer encouraged these notions; having, as has been shown, the inherent spirit of a land speculator, which had been wonderfully quickened and expanded since he had become a landholder.  Many of the common people, who had never before owned a foot of land, now began to be discontented with the town lots which had fallen to their shares; others who had snug farms and tobacco plantations found they had not sufficient elbow-room, and began to question the rights of the Indians to the vast regions they pretended to hold ­while the good Oloffe indulged in magnificent dreams of foreign conquest and great patroonships in the wilderness.

The result of these dreams were certain exploring expeditions sent forth in various directions to “sow the seeds of empire,” as it was said.  The earliest of these were conducted by Hans Reinier Oothout, an old navigator famous for the sharpness of his vision, who could see land when it was quite out of sight to ordinary mortals, and who had a spy-glass covered with a bit of tarpaulin, with which he could spy up the crookedest river, quite to its head waters.  He was accompanied by Mynheer Ten Breeches, as land measurer, in case of any dispute with the Indians.

What was the consequence of these exploring expeditions?  In a little while we find a frontier post or trading-house called Fort Nassau, established far to the south on Delaware River; another called Fort Goed Hoop (or Good Hope), on the Varsche or Fresh, or Connecticut River; and another called Fort Aurania (now Albany) away up the Hudson River; while the boundaries of the province kept extending on every side, nobody knew whither, far into the regions of Terra Incognita.

Of the boundary feuds and troubles which the ambitious little province brought upon itself by these indefinite expansions of its territory we shall treat at large in the after pages of this eventful history; sufficient for the present is it to say, that the swelling importance of the Nieuw Nederlandts awakened the attention of the mother country, who, finding it likely to yield much revenue and no trouble, began to take that interest in its welfare which knowing people evince for rich relations.

But as this opens a new era in the fortunes of New Amsterdam I will here put an end to this second book of my history, and will treat of the maternal policy of the mother country in my next.